Two good cheap Spanish reds
Although inflation is working its inexorable pressure against some of the best Spanish wines, pushing the price tages on top Riojas, Priorats and Ribera del Dueros well into the double digits, we can still look to Spain for good red wines of real quality in the budget bins. Both of these give good service at the table, going beyond mere plonk to rate as best buys.

Casa Castillo Casa Castillo 1998 Jumilla Monastrell ($7.99)
Monastrell is Spanish for Mourvèdre, a grape that the Spanish also, confusingly, sometimes call Mataro; Jumilla is a wine region in the mountains above the Mediterranean coast, above Alicante and southwest of Valencia. Dark garnet with a reddish glint, the wine shows red fruit and earthy, barky notes that I associate with Mourvèdre;. Full cherry-berry fruit flavors, more open than the nose, show good acidic structure and deep complexity that evolves with time in the glass. Very fine wine! U.S. importer: Cutting Edge Selections, Cincinnati. (Nov. 9, 1999)

Vina Urbezo Bodegas Solar de Urbezo 1998 Viña Urbezo Cariñena ($6.99)
From Cariñena, northeast of Madrid and not far from the Ebro river downstream from Rioja, this blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Tempranillo offers pleasant blackberry-jam aromas. Juicy and ripe, almost slightly sweet, it shows sufficient acidity for balance but seems vinified for mass-market appeal more than complexity or structure. Not a bad quaffing wine but far from memorable. U.S. importer: Cutting Edge Selections, Cincinnati. (Nov. 9, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: Both wines matched nicely with a risotto of prosciutto and chopped spinach.

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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